Lawsuit filed against sawmill operator linked to Mill Fire
Another lawsuit has been filed against the owner company Northern California lumberyard linked to deadly fire that destroyed dozens of homes in Siskiyou County this summer.
The complaint, filed last week in San Francisco Superior Court, alleges that Roseburg Forest Products Co. conducted work in its factory “in a reckless manner which they knew or ought to have known created an unreasonable risk of a catastrophic fire.”
The lawsuit, filed Nov. 18 by attorneys at law firm Parkinson Benson Potter on behalf of the eight plaintiffs, accuses Rosberg of multiple violations, including negligence and health and safety violations.
The plaintiffs are homeowners and tenants whose homes were destroyed by the mill fire, including an 88-year-old woman who, according to the lawsuit, was injured during the evacuation and “continues to struggle with nightmares, PTSD and related emotional trauma.” .
This is at least the fourth civil lawsuit against Roseburg related to the mill fire. A 3,935-acre wildfire broke out on Sept. 2 near the town of Weed, destroying more than 115 buildings and killing two residents.
The latest lawsuit names Roseburg and the factory’s safety and operations managers as defendants, alleging that the company and its management “deliberately and repeatedly put profits over safety.” The lawsuit seeks compensation for property damage and medical expenses, as well as punitive damages.
The official cause of the fire is under investigation, but Cal Fire investigators are focusing on a wooden warehouse that Roseburg admitted was used for hot ash. The company said a faulty sprinkler could have caused the fire.
A A Sacramento Bee investigation published last month found no evidence that fire inspectors ever went inside a wooden warehouse, although there have been several fires in the building over the years.
A recent lawsuit alleges that Roseburg employees should have known of the extremely high fire danger in the region due to severe drought in and around California The McKinney Fire, also in Siskiyou County, which has burned more than 60,000 acres and killed four people just a month earlier.
In a recent 20-page complaint, attorneys for the plaintiffs point to the “obvious fire hazard” posed by the hot ash storage facility, alleging that Roseburg knowingly operated with a broken fire suppression system.
Roseburg, an Oregon veneer manufacturer, has resumed full operations at its Siskiyou County plant November 9.
The company removed and replaced the ash mixer and updated ash storage protocols, according to a company press release. Roseburg said it notified Cal Fire and Siskiyou County authorities, including law enforcement, of its plans to resume operations, according to a news release.
Pete Heelan, a spokesman for Roseburg, did not immediately respond to a Nov. 18 request for comment on the lawsuit. Heelan declined to comment previous lawsuits related to the mill fireincluding one filed by a Weed resident in early October.